Brain Blog: Edition 1

Brain Blog: Edition 1

Welcome to Brain Blog: Edition 1

Thank you for taking the time to read our first ever blog post. We hope that we can use this platform to share with you some of the psychology & criminology news that we have read. Plus some of the debates and topics that are currently evolving in the world of these fascinated subjects. 

Why do we adopt new rules, such as social distancing?

 It appears that social influence does matter and we follow guidelines more when our close circle does. Recent research showed that people distanced most when they thought their social circle did. Social influence mattered more than people thinking distancing was the right thing to do. People’s adherence also aligned with their fellow citizens, but only if they felt deeply bonded with their country. (Tunçgenç, El Zein, et al, 2021)

Does private education make nicer people?

 It would appear not. Private and state school students differed marginally in social–emotional behaviours, such as self-control, volunteering, sexual conduct, and substance use. Only risk taking and age at having the first alcoholic drink differed between private and state school children, with the privately educated ones being less risk averse and drinking at younger ages than those attending state school. (Stumm & Plomin, 2021)

 What is a face worth?

There is ample evidence that attractive individuals are judged more favourably. However, the research carried out by Pandey & Zayas sought to find out if attractive individuals would still be judged favourably when decision-makers are given feedback.
Participants were presented with the faces of four potential financial partners, each shown side by side, and asked to select a partner that would maximise their profits. Participants then received feedback about the monetary gains or losses each of the partners had accrued.
What the participants did not know was that two of the partners, one attractive and one unattractive, were equal in monetary gains and two of the partners, one attractive and one unattractive, were equal in monetary losses.
Participants selected the attractive partners more throughout the task even though the unattractive partner was equally as profitable. In fact, they were quicker to reselect them even if they experienced a loss. (Gayathri Pandey & Vivian Zayas, 2021)

The effect of offender race/ethnicity on public opinion of appropriate criminal sentences

Research carried out in the USA by Forney & Lacy, published this month, sought to analyse the relationship between an offender's racial/ethnic status and the layperson's opinion of an appropriate sentence by investigating an array of racial/ethnic categories amongst a variety of crimes.
Undergraduate students were presented with crime stories and photos of offenders and asked to assign them a punishment.
Results showed that white offenders were sentenced more harshly for assault crimes and the difference in sentence was more significant when the participant viewed offenders from all five race/ethnicity categories.
The researchers point out that the results of this study may be reflective of the current socio-political climate in the US following the murder of George Floyd and as such they suggest a replication of this study to assess the longevity of these findings.


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  • Jennifer Dow